Nokia N9 – The Problem With Nokia?

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With Nokia losing ground globally to almost all manufacturers big and small, is the Nordic mobile giant Finnished yet?

Nokia N9 – The Last Hope?

In a recent article I talked about Nokia’s new collaboration with Microsoft (Windows 7) and went on to say that it was make or break for the mobile stalwart of old.

Despite the size and brand name associated with the Finnish Giant, the truth is, no one is too large to fail in the modern world of technology and commerce.

Apps make smartphones…smart:

When all said and done a smartphone without apps is pretty dumb, they are the same as the phones that ruled the day only two+ years ago.

Call, text, take a picture and maybe some video.

What applications offer is to customise the phone and enhance its functionality so it becomes your personal smart device.

We all know that customisation is a prized holy grail of any manufacturers especially when it makes you more money, so why have Nokia taken so bloody long to realise that having control of all parts of the production and consumption chain aka “vertical integration” is the way to make the dollars!…see Apple for tips.

Maybe they operate too closely to the PirateBay guys and still feel that there is no money in software or digital assets….wake up!

With the slow and scheduled demise of the Symbian OS, app developers have all but abandoned ship for the Symbian OS as a developers platform for obvious reasons.

With the arrival of the Nokia N9 we see two things happen at Nokia that concern me:

1st – Is the arrival of a “new” operating system for Nokia devices called “Meego”

2nd – We see Nokia team up with Microsoft and produce an even newer operating system for the new Windows/Nokia devices due out soon. Watch exclusive video here of the new Nokia Windows Sea Ray

The question I have for Nokia is what are you going to do about making sure that developers make quality apps for your operating system?

Yes Nokia will include the Apps compliant Qt 4.7 which should allow developers to knock out applications swiftly enough, but as with the Android marketplace (which is in another league to Nokia’s own current equivalent app marketplace) a serious issue of quality and quantity arises.

A lack of Apps is the one big gripe I have over my old iPhone after a recent switch to the Samsung S2, and believe me it is a serious gripe, though I suspect one that will be overcome soon enough given the ubiquity of the Android O/S but will this be the same for Meego or indeed Windows 7?

Lets go back to 1984

1980's Computers

It reminds me of a time back in the early 1980’s.

In the UK you had four main choices for a home computer (PC) depending on your budget.

1, Sinclair ZX Spectrum

2, Commodore 64

3, Amstrad CPC

4, Acorn Electron

Now the geeks in the house would tell you that the Acorn Electron was vastly superior in many aspects but vitally missed the extra RAM that the Commodore and Spectrum offered.

But the real issue that faced the Acorn Electron was that they released their hardware too late for the Christmas period even when orders were already in the shops.

As a result, people cancelled and bought something else.

Over a short period of time, games developers/publishers started to work more on the larger selling Sinclair, Amstrad And Commodore PC….this slowed sales of Acorn Electrons as word got out that titles were not being released and eventually the Acorn simply stopped growing and died as it was caught in a vicious circle. Ironic considering the status of the humble Acorn in most peoples mind.

Developers make or break your market:

App Developers

With Apples app market providing a record 15 billion app downloads as of mid 2011, and Nokia yet to really get going in this space, we worry that it may be too little too late.

Without developers creating quality applications for a smart phone, there is no way that that device will either sell or grow.

Now this kind of situation is deeply hurtful to a manufacturer (BETAMAX v VHS) so it is in Nokia’s best interest to make sure that developers of apps are not messed about too much and that they can EASILY port applications made for the iPhone O/S and Android O/S easily to both MeeGo, and variations of the Symbian O/S and now the Windows 7 operating system.

Damn!! Talk about making everyone confused!…..seriously not the best idea for a manufacturer who is still on the back foot in this brave new world.

And while many will say that the average person in the street will not care about the confusing operating system issue, my own response would be that times are changing, and if bad press or lack of press due to lack of understanding prevails, then Nokia will have a challenge to convince people through the blogosphere that they are worth looking at again, after being so noticeably absent for so long.

If Nokia feel they can just mess around until it suits them then they have seriously misjudged the way things are moving in the smart phone arena.

Now is the time to get a firm position in the high end smart phone arena:

We know that Symbian is still technically the worlds number 2 smart phone O/S but only on technicalities. It’s power and appeal is nowhere near as far ranging as Apples iOS or the Android O/S.

Here is a cool video we produced showing some great smart phone statistics please do tweet and share!

Meego Stay Or Me Go Home Now? The issue of working with two operating systems at once:

So what exactly is MeeGo and is it going to disappear quicker than Symbian now that Microsoft are fully in bed with Nokia?

MeeGo is essentially a combination of two Linux based operating systems, namely Nokia’s Debian-based Maemo and Intel’s Fedora-based Moblin operating systems.

With the departure of the MeeGo team manager for Nokia, Alberto Torres, after the news that Nokia was hooking up with Microsoft, many wondered just how focused Nokia are on keeping the Meego operating system going for future devices.

We know that the Nokia N9 release will utilise the MeeGo O/S but no news has emerged to say if this will be a one off or will continue as a line of phones separate to the ones offered via the windows phone 7 and future 8 operating systems.

And what will happen to support for the O/S in all eventualities?

Well news on the grapevine:

Actually from Twitter and Nokia’s Head of Portfolio Management, Klas Strom who assures us all that support for the Meego O/S will be provided in the future…we hope this is true.

With all this talk of apps, I am at a loss to see why Nokia are being so damn shy about which operating system will stand the test of time now they have hooked up with Windows 7.

Nokia N9 Styling:

Nokia N9 Smart Phone

Without sounding too harsh on our Finnish friends, Nokia have fallen wayside of the style radar for some time. That is not to say they have become un-stylish per se, but simply because the phones that have been released have all been eclipsed by something sexier or more functional that has caught the eye quicker and for longer, examples include most of the recent Samsung’s, HTC’s Sony’s and of course the iPhone range, we would even say that LG have a smart phone that beats the Nokia N8 both for looks and usability and more importantly would appear to be future proof enough for now, even if users of the LG Optimus complain of a huge lack of updates.

With Nokia’s N9 they have kept the sleek styling we have come to expect of Nokia and design houses of the Northern regions of Europe, utilising the old “form follows function” mentality preferred and originated by the modernist movement of designers and architects of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s that fits so well with items that are used daily and need a smooth functional interface.

Apple have made a success of this with the functionality of the iPhone, copied by competing manufacturers in their droves. Nokia’s method with the N9 is to try to bring something unique to the table with a system they are terming “swipe”….”all it takes is a swipe”….“We wanted to design a better way to use a phone, and it comes down to one simple gesture – a swipe.”

Forgive me but I have basically been doing this with my iPhone and Samsung S2 for 2 years or more.

Ah well, welcome to the new world Nokia, glad to see you back, now take a seat down over there while we get you a stiff f*****g drink, we have a few things to talk about.

The problem with Nokia:

The problem with Nokia and the N9 is that its release comes about at just the time when the Global population has woken up and said, you know what, where have Nokia gone?

People in the know have asked this for ages, and it is only the emerging (less profitable) markets who have kept Nokia phones to their ears for the last two or so years.

So what do Nokia go and do….release another phone with a new operating system that no one has heard of and is more than likely going to go down the pan pretty soon.

Nokia listen up:

Style will usually get you anywhere, but seriously if you dont have any friends in the club in the first place, your fancy new jacket might make you look more of a knob than you intended and while being different is usually cool, if your actually a one trick pony when scratched, your time away from being trendy will become all too apparen’t and you will be laughed back out onto the cold damp street you came in from with a black eye before you can say “swipppppeeeee! that hurt!”.

Seriously, what did you guys do that made you feel like the best way to win over an already happy customer base (with other manufacturers) was to go and confuse them even more?

Personal opinion on Nokia:

I feel that the N9 may well be a bit of a botched effort even though it looks fantastic on paper and that teaming up with Microsoft could put them in a great position with the potential for Xbox integration and the social aspect that can come from this partnership, plus Windows 7 actually looks pretty cool.

We know Nokia can make the best quality phones in the world and the N9 is proof of this on many counts, just ask Apple. Apple have been stealing Nokia’s trademark secrets for ages now.

Though I did pose a question earlier in the article above; Have Nokia missed the boat? Are they better placed to be a world wide R&D centre and sell patents and licenses for new technologies developed?

Well if the next phone (Windows Sea Ray) launched after the much anticipated Nokia N9 does not work financially for Microsoft and Nokia, then it is surely game over for the company in terms of gaining any significant foothold in the smartphone arena any time soon and many will ask why they did not just go for an Android O/S device and get a quality phone out to market way back in 2010 or earlier.

Ah Nokia, who once ruled the mobile device market….surely it’s not game over yet?

Anthony Munns